Terminally Ill Girl with Rare Brain Tumor Wants Love Letters From Dogs for Comfort

Seven-year-old Emma has an inoperable brain tumor known as a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

Photo: GoFundMe

A month ago, Emma’s life erupted in chaos.

According to her GoFundMe page, the 7-year-old was recently diagnosed with a rare and inoperable brain tumor known as a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

Shortly before receiving the diagnosis, the Hartland, Wisconsin, girl started experiencing headaches and flu-like symptoms. After failing to get better after several days, Emma went to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

“We were greeted by an enormous team of experts and a CT scan showed the tumor was blocking flow of her spinal fluid causing it to pool at the top of her brain. She had some swelling as well. She was rushed to the OR to put in a drain,” her mother, Tammy Mertens, wrote of the visit on Emma’s Caring Bridge page.

A biopsy later revealed that it was a DIPG tumor. Since receiving her diagnosis, Emma has undergone several operations, including having a permanent shunt put in that “basically a tube that will drain her fluid in her brain into her abdomen.” She is currently in the midst a 6-week run of daily radiation therapy to treat the tumor.

Emma’s fighting spirit, along with the support of her family and friends, has allowed her to move from the hospital’s ICU back home.

The girl’s father, Geoff Mertens, wrote on Emma’s Caring Bridge page that seeing his daughter’s progress can make his family forget that no one has survived a DIPG tumor and that Emma is working with a 9-month timeline.


“Our goal is still to celebrate each day, one day at a time. Today was a good day. We had a break in between appointments and went to Build-A-Bear and the Cheesecake Factory,” he wrote on Feb. 7.

One of the thing that can always brighten Emma’s day is a dog. Emma has found comfort in visits from therapy dogs and dog friends throughout her treatment.

This devotion to dogs has caused many pet parents who’ve heard Emma’s story, to send messages of encouragement from their canines to the 7-year-old. Word of Emma’s love for dogs has quickly spread across social media, leading to an outpouring of doggie love letters from around the world.

Emma’s family wrote on their daughter’s Caring Bridge page that Emma has received letters from dogs in almost every U.S. state, and several countries including The Netherlands, England, Australia, Venezuela, Italy and Germany.

“Emma’s email inbox was completely full (2500) and so was her P.O. Box. Many pictures of puppies really made her laugh or smile. Thank you to everyone who is trying to put a smile on her face, we appreciate the gesture,” Emma’s dad wrote on Wednesday.

If you have a dog love letter you would like to give Emma, you can send your message to the address or email below.

Emma Mertens

P.O. Box 230

Hartland, WI


Email: emmalovesdogs7@gmail.com

If you would like to donate to Emma’s fight, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Emma to help cover her extensive medical costs.

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